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In a wide-ranging multimedia approach, the young artist Vanja Babić (1984) demonstrates his interest in, in fact, fascination with, money as the fatal means of human survival in the contemporary consumer world.He moves in a wide range, from a statistical and academic approach to ludic inductions of surprising visual appearances of the everyday legal tender which he heightens, making visible its inherently magical properties. At the same time, he confronts us with and prompts us to consider the mythology and hypnotic power that this sophisticated invention has upon its inventor.
Thus in the space of the gallery we are awaited by a television, device with a notoriously hypnotic effect on the masses, which has a mirror for a screen. We see then ourselves instead of a broadcast picture, but then through a hole in the middle of the mirror the interior of the cabinet appears, in which, under UV light, the illusionist rotation of a coin takes place. In addition, on the walls there are light boxes with a photograph of a mandala obtained by the rotation of a coin on a clock hand. Babić goes on to rework the well known phrase (and fact?) time is money by installing a series of clock movements that on their hands, the timing of which is programmed, turn coins and banknotes that
represent, as the artist says, the earnings per minute of the minimum wage, of the average wage and of above average wages, from smallest to biggest. As well as these humorous and playful stage settings, the author shows examples of persuasive everyday slogans, adverts meant to stimulate purchases: texts that in their optimism and facileness show purchasing as enticing and doable. There are also photographs and authentic specimens of small-scale posters or adverts, those uncontrolled enticements to rapid, pain-free borrowing. On show as well are the products themselves, the things consumed, and then as they are when they are discarded, the consequences of irrational and superabundant supply, in quantities that cannot be absorbed. The artist
denounces the scandalous decay and recycling fate of, in partic2 ular, food projects that pass by consumers who are in dire need and yet without purchasing power.
The visitor to the exhibition is no mere passive observer, but is headed in the direction of participation, either as a prosthesis of the exhibits, that is, a participant in the socialisation in the storefront of the gallery, or as a possible respondent to a questionnaire. The questions are of course related to the topic of the show, relating to
amounts of wages, monthly needs and capacity to consume, making
ends meet in the household economy. With painstaking analysis and serious reflection on the one hand and a playfulness that results in unexpected visual and social events on
the other, Vanja Babić shows money and consumption, which essentially determine contemporary living, in both problem and aesthetic lights. The critical and possibly moralistic fabric of the work is buffered by its dynamic and attractive form. A serious theme becomes acceptable for consideration and more pliant to the making of conclusions. The absurd situations that accompany the daily turnover of money and goods acquire a materially evident equivalent in an artistic depiction that catalyses the conscientizing of the phenomenon and perhaps, for a moment at least, liberation from the status of its passive victim.
Antun Maračić






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